Mass. Public Health Dept. Takes On Philip Morris

Arnold Print Advertising Attacks Tobacco Giant’s ‘Social’ Stance
BOSTON–The latest anti-tobacco salvo from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health targets the perceived hypocrisy of image ads from Philip Morris Cos. that detail its philanthropic and social endeavors.
“Here’s a company that acknowledges [what] scientists say– cigarettes cause cancer–but they tell the American public ‘We’re a good company’ with these slick public relations ads,” said Dr. Greg Connolly, who heads up anti-smoking efforts for the Commonwealth. “This is a shot across their bow. I feel it’s a fair response.”
Using only stark, white text against a black background, one ad reads: “Philip Morris wants you to know how much help they give women’s shelters. Doesn’t everyone deserve to live long enough to develop emphysema?” All four executions are tagged, “Don’t let them buy your complacency.”
The MDPH ads attack a $100 million national campaign New York-based Philip Morris launched last year through Young & Rubicam. “This misrepresents who we are,” said Philip Morris representative Peggy Roberts. “[These attacks] are not the wisest use of taxpayer money.”
Crafted by Arnold Communications here, the nearly full-page ads are appearing in more than a dozen Bay State papers. Newspapers were chosen as the exclusive advertising medium because of their “immediacy,” said Arnold vice president Mary Brogdon. It has not been determined if the message will be translated to other media.
The new work comes just one week after ABC, NBC and CBS balked at the shop’s proposed anti-smoking creative for the American Legacy Foundation campaign. That work, sources said, compared such television ad staples as cars and sneakers to cigarettes–and were apparently considered too hard-edged by network executives. Arnold, working with Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami, won the ALF account last year, but ads have yet to break.

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: January 31, 2000 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT